Some marketing and business development (BD) teams struggle to engage with the fee earners in their firms in a meaningful way. Despite being specialists in their field, they are perceived as providing a tactical 'support' function – often to their consternation.
Clearly, a change in tack is needed on the part of these skilled marketing and BD professionals to ‘be counted’. Here are my top tips:
- Collaborate to 'problem solve'
Fee earners have new business goals to reach, but most prefer to remain focussed on their core area of work – i.e. delivering legal advice to clients. Help solve their problems – be that suggesting creative ways to enable them to reach their new business targets or identifying potential opportunities. Here’s a scenario that you may recognise. A Partner of a practice has been running seminars at periodic intervals as part of his/her BD activity. On interrogating the data, you find that these events have generated minimal or no new instructions. Why? While these are good networking events, typically, the same people attend the event, no consequential information is imparted at these events, and limited follow ups are conducted post the event. You conclude that the ROI, in both time and effort and new business is negligible.
To help overcome this problem for the Partner, you could suggest a dynamic email or social media campaign that offers timely advisories, potentially requiring minimal or no budget. Simultaneously you could track the Partner’s Key Clients to help highlight opportunities for proactive outreach based on internal and external developments related to the client contacts.
- Collaborate with your internal BD peers
Especially in large firms, commonly there are multiple BD executives who are assigned to the various practice groups within the organisation. Build relationships with them to identify joint areas of opportunity and then work with the respective Partners and fee earners to execute the ‘line of attack’ (so to speak!). This will facilitate reinforcement of the ideas/approaches from multiple touchpoints and help move away from the common sentiment towards BD professionals of “do as I tell you to”.
- Stoke fee earners’ competitive nature
Act as their ‘peer’. Don’t hesitate to walk through their door to suggest news BD ideas. It’s crucial that you go armed with information to make the case – take information on their Key Clients to illustrate the business opportunity, how their peers in other firms are approaching and winning instructions, the strength of relationships that exist in the organisation already, and so on.
Data is your ammunition. All the above can be easily done if you have insightful information at your fingertips. The best part is that today, CRM systems are designed to surface information at your ‘point of need’ – i.e. within your workflow – so access to the data is effortless. In fact, highlighting the data from a system that is used by both you and the fee earners may even convince the latter to pay a little more attention to the intelligence that resides in the technology.